AOH :: IS1675.HTM

Are You Addicted to Information Insecurity?

Are You Addicted to Information Insecurity?
Are You Addicted to Information Insecurity? 

By Ben Rothke
February 02, 2009

A recent study has a finding that defies reason: close to half of 154 
smokers who had surgery to remove early stage lung cancer picked up a 
cigarette again within 12 months of their operation, and more than 
one-third were smoking at the one year mark.

In fact, 60% of patients who started smoking again did so within two 
months of surgery. The study, led by researchers at Washington 
University School of Medicine and published in Cancer Epidemiology, 
Biomarkers & Prevention confirmed that addictive behaviors are not 
easily changed.

The study's lead author, Mark Walker, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and 
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Washington University, summed it up 
best when he noted, "Patients are all addicted, so you cannot assume 
they will easily change their behavior simply because they have dodged 
this particular bullet." He concludes that their choices are driven by 
insidious addictive cravings for nicotine.

In the world of IT, far too many organizations are addicted not to 
something as tangible as a cigarette, but instead to insecurity. While 
smokers' actions are driven by cravings for nicotine despite the health 
hazards, information technology's actions are driven by users' desire 
for easy access to data, usability, and quick deployment, with a 
disregard for confidentiality, integrity and availability of that data. 
These organizations typically know the risk of giving short shrift to 
security (many have even been bitten by data breaches and malware 
outbreaks), yet continue with their insecure ways despite clear evidence 
of its hazards. While we are decades into the IT revolution, too many 
companies are still not following computer security fundamentals.

While each passing year brings greater and fancier security and privacy 
tools and technologies, not much has changed about how many 
organizations approach information security. In fact, Forbes noted that 
during 2008, banks have lost more of their customers' personal data than 
ever before. Based on this trend, and in light of deteriorating economic 
conditions, by the time the 2009 security year-in-review articles are 
written, there is every likelihood that this year will be the worst year 
on record for information security and privacy.

Getting your organization to change its addiction to insecurity won't be 
easy. It is thought that addictive activities produce beta-endorphins in 
the brain, which gives the person a feeling of being high. Yet the highs 
of insecurity can include legal issues, regulatory penalties, negative 
PR, and much more. In order for enterprises to make those changes to a 
secure environment, they need to start by executing in the following 


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